Crowds turn out for 'awesome' Cup Day'
A record-breaking turnout to Cup Day at Addington Raceway has made chief executive Dean McKenzie a "very happy man".
Although a final crowd figure was as yet unknown, organisers said about 25,000 people piled into the raceway yesterday, a number that came as a bit of a surprise to McKenzie.
Last year about 21,000 people attended and McKenzie had been hoping for about 23,000 this year.
"I'm always optimistic but to see just how huge the crowd is today, well, it's just been fantastic."
Betting figures were up, presale tickets had been very strong and the Lindauer Lawn and public village areas were packed.
"Canterbury and Christchurch are coming back now from the earthquakes and it's really positive and I think the crowd numbers reflect that."
The showers forecast for yesterday stayed away and instead race-goers enjoyed sunny spells and light winds.
"We were really lucky with the weather and you really can't underestimate the impact the weather has."
Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee was among the thousands of revellers enjoying the most prestigious racing day in New Zealand's calendar.
Brownlee said he was very impressed. "I've been coming to Cup Day ever since I was old enough to be here . . . it's a day where people put on their best gear and celebrate."
He said to see such a "huge crowd is wonderful". "I'm not really into racing but I've always enjoyed occasions like this and I think it's great that fashion really is at the forefront today."
Christchurch woman Ivy Lee, 26, has been coming to Cup Day for "years and years".
"The organisation of this year has been fantastic. The different areas are great and fashion has its own proper stage this year which I think is fantastic."
Sara Lewicka, of Melbourne, said Cup Day at Addington was "not quite as busy" as the Melbourne Cup Day but was "just as awesome".
"Everyone looks stunning, I love it. My own dress was a last-minute decision but I can only imagine how much effort some people here put into their outfits."
The New Zealand Army Band entertained hundreds of people in the public village and hundreds more watched the heats for best-dressed man and woman and body art.
Kiwi comedians and television personalities Ben Boyce and Jono Pryor made an appearance in the fashion heats.
Boyce described his outfit as a combination of "stuff borrowed from drunk people" and Pryor attracted cheers when he bared his buttocks on stage.
Templeton man Gareth Hide was crowned best-dressed man while Andrea Bryant of Merivale took out best-dressed woman.
Senior Sergeant Rob Patterson praised the behaviour of the Cup Day crowd saying "on the whole, it was a very good day". "The behaviour was better than last year. People were happy and pretty compliant."
Patterson said there had been a handful of arrests for drunken disorder. "But in all fairness, there wasn't too many idiots."
Police would have a strong presence at "various hot spots" in the city overnight, he said.
St John ambulance spokesman Ian Henderson said more than 200 people were treated yesterday for minor injuries such as scrapes or requests for paracetamol.
A lot of young women in heels were in need of plasters, he said.
"We transported two people to Christchurch Hospital's emergency department, neither for alcohol-related incidents. One was a cardiac incident and one was a suspected stroke," he said.
Henderson said in comparison to previous Cup Days, St John had been steady but not particularly busy.
REVELLERS 'PRETTY WELL BEHAVED'
Several people were in Christchurch Central police stations cells after post Cup-Day revelry, but police said behaviour generally was good.
The Press accompanied Sergeant Chris Barker and Constable Hamish Fair from the alcohol strategy and enforcement team from 6pm until 8pm.
During that time, only one racegoer was arrested for disorderly behaviour in Riccarton Rd after it was alleged he abused a female reveller.
"Reports so far suggest everyone has been pretty well behaved," Barker said.
An emphasis on enforcing public-place drinking laws was to reduce the crime and disorder that followed, he said.
"The whole idea is to nip it in the bud."
By 8pm a police spokesman said eight people had been processed and taken to the central police station cells.
St John Ambulance said last night they had been called to two serious incidents, both close to Addington Raceway.
A St John spokesman said a man, aged in his 30s, was hit by a car on Troup Dr near the Speights Ale House.
He was taken to Christchurch Hospital with very serious injuries, including head injuries, the spokesman said.
A van with eight occupants also rolled in Lincoln Rd. Three ambulances were sent to the scene.
Five occupants declined to go to Christchurch Hospital, while three suffering moderate injuries were taken there, he said.
- The Press